HAZLETON, Pa. - Penn State Hazleton debuted as the number one team in the first United States Collegiate Athletic Association Women's Division II Coaches Poll on Friday, tied with the University of Maine-Augusta with 289 points. Their first ever game as the no. 1 team in the USCAA would not be easy, but a strong 15 minutes to close the game secured a successful result.
Junior Stephanie Guevara (North Brunswick, NJ) led all scorers with 23 points as no. 1 Hazleton fended off a third quarter rally from Penn State DuBois, ultimately toppling their visitors, 76-51, in a Penn State University Athletic Conference tilt on Saturday afternoon.
Senior Alexis Daly (Wyalusing, Pa.) added 18 points and 12 rebounds for her second double-double of the season, while freshman Ijonana Laster (Niagara Falls, NY) scored 14 points off the bench.
Hazleton (8-1, 3-0 PSUAC) led the entire game, save for one tie midway through the third quarter. Despite holding a comfortable lead for much of the first half, DuBois (2-5, 0-2 PSUAC) made a run early in the third quarter to tie the score at 44-44 before a big Hazleton run made it 65-44 with five minutes left in the game.
Hazleton jumped out early in the first half on the shoulders of Daly and freshman McKenzie Prutsman (Jasper, NY) who combined for the first seven Lady Lions points. Guevara hit a three to start a 12-2 Hazleton run that made it 19-7 with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. DuBois got the Lady Lions in foul trouble early and capitalized with five late free throws to make it 23-14 at the end of the first.
Laster started the second quarter with Hazleton's first five points as the Lady Lions built a 15 point lead just over halfway through the stanza. But DuBois answered with an 8-4 run to trail 39-28 with two minutes left. Following a Guevara jumper, the Lions reeled off the final four points to match their first quarter deficit of nine.
DuBois used a 12-3 run out of the gates in the second half as Kristy Hanes led the way with six points, including a three-pointer that tied the score at 44-44. The teams went scoreless for nearly two minutes before Hazleton broke through with a Prustman lay-up. The Lady Lions would end the quarter on a 15-0 run that gave them a 59-44 lead after three.
Daly and Guevara combined for seven points during the stretch, while Laster added four points of her own. Sophomore Alison Vincent (Ashville, Pa.) hit a jumper to close the quarter as a tie game had suddenly turned into a comfortable cushion.
Hazleton continued to stretch their lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter, scoring the first six points and holding DuBois scoreless for the first five minutes of the final stanza. During the midst of the 21-0 run over two quarters, the Lady Lions held DuBois scoreless for more than 10 minutes.
Guevara and Daly led all scorers with their performances on the afternoon, but the real performance came on the defensive side of the ball for Hazleton. The Lady Lions held DuBois to 27 percent shooting from the field, and forced 28 turnovers. Hazleton turned those miscues into 21 points, while also holding the rebounding edge, 48-46.
Next Up: Hazleton hits the road again for their final trip of the semester when they travel to Penn State Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday, Dec. 8th for a 6:00 p.m. tip.